Along with Serbia’s first Cannes Lion ever, Jana Savić Rastovac, Creative Director McCann Beograd, places her two years of maternity leave among the important stages that shaped her career. She sees those years as a symbol to her female colleagues, one that said “You can do it, fearlessly”. Jana is also a member of the 5050initiative.org, a platform that fights for gender equality in the creative industry.
She started working in advertising in the 2000s, with a background in sociology and a deep love for the theater. And so she was making theater with data and remained in the industry as she considered it the best place to be and to grow at, at the crossroad of arts, media and creation. If you were to judge Serbia by its TV ads, you’d see many couples talking to bank clerks, hipsters taking photos in work-hubs, laundry washing mums and girls with glowing hair that walk in slow motion. Pretty close to reality, according to Jana. And pretty close to the Romanian reality as well.
Your start in advertising
At that time, beginning of 2000s, option to choose to work in advertising was almost non existing. Many of us just stumbled upon the doors of ad agencies. For me as well, it was a coincidence. I was on a final year of my sociology studies, wondering how to put in use classical education in humanities and social research and love for the theater where I spent my teen years.
So, I found myself in a happy place, in McCann Belgrade, making theater with data, as copy trainee. I just stayed, because it was the most exciting place to be and grow, in the crossroads of art, media and influence creation.
Important stages in your advertising pathway
Working with different creative directors in my early years gave me the opportunity to shape myself picking the best skills of each and every one of them. It also provided me with self confidence in breaking Don Draper stereotype, so learning from male and female pop stars, tv directors, art directors and columnists, backgrounds of my creative directors, provided me with an early insight that I could do lead creative thinking one day, in my own style.
Winning the first Cannes Lion for Serbia. This was an incredible milestone that set the direction of future ambitions for the whole Serbian market.
Two full-year maternity leaves are the two breaking points of my career path. I consider this important, as a signal for my female fellows that you can do it, fearlessly.
Activating our creative network across the region and group effort in exchanging knowledge and ideas resulted not only in good, visible creative results, but in long lasting friendships.
Significant changes in the industry
Agencies were boiling pots of wondering talent, artists, designers, writers and vagabonds. I am talking about the generation that grew up in soft socialism of Yugoslavia, with Coke and Levis and ended up stranded in our twenties next to war fronts, sanctions, political protests and visas for travel. Constrains marked this generation, eager to find the voice and show itself through creation.
Global brands started communicating on local market and local brands started shaping their appearance in the market, following the routes of big international players.
Fast forward to this date, everything is obviously much faster and in ever changing mode. We have lot more work to do and a lot more power in terms of tools that are given to us. Opportunities are bigger for global brands to create local content and local brands to play on the bigger scene. Fast pace made ajust our methods, using co thinking and co creation methods with our clients and a more proactive approach to everything we do.
Another obvious thing is that our industry is not attractive to young people as it used to be. This is a global problem, but I am an optimist. I don’t want to proclaim another “death of something” in our industry.
The local flavour
We consider ourselves a passionate nation that doesn’t give up. Our advertising flavor seems to reflect it, through “make me laugh” or “make me cry” or “make me proud” approaches. These traits seem to be constant, travelling across evolving channels.
Improvisation and creative thinking despite constrains is another attribute of Serbian creativity.
Local versus global
I see two parallel processes here: “hubisation” of thinking, with efficiency in mind, and “localization” with the purpose to be truly connected.
Serbia is a relatively small market. Sometimes, we are being looked at as a broader region and therefore brand voices are served on the local plate from somewhere else. But we have data that show people expect global brands to act on local levels, no matter the scale. The majority of our global clients, luckily, recognize this.
The factors that influence the industry
Every year advertising is proclaiming death of something. Death of TV, death of print, out of home, but I see them well and alive. Death of Facebook?
Advertising business is keeping up with times. Brands are on a search of purpose and meaningful dialogs with people, finding paths in the jungle of social and traditional media.
Good parts of it that you get to experiment, once you set your mind that things are possible, despite the fact that you live in Serbia. We do get to do wonderful things on local and global brands. Bad parts off course are budgets and lack of maneuvering space in dreaming big.
Purchasing power is dictating dreams.
How does technology influence the creative product?
Tech per se is doing great in Serbia. Software and gaming companies are of top notch quality, using their knowledge as export product most of the time. Yet, tech is still slowly changing the behaviors and daily habits, penetrating industry both from brand and agencies sides.
Purpose. The word everyone is talking about. Both brands and agencies want to put their stamp in time, “We were here and we did something meaningful”.
If a stranger saw the majority of your commercials
If you were to judge according to commercial block on TV, lots of couples these days are talking to bank clerks, hipsters are taking pictures on their smart phones in co working spaces, moms are washing clothes, girls are walking in slow mo with their shiny hairs. Everyone is eating something every day, from variety of tactical offers.
It is fairly close.
Illustrative local campaigns
An app for the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade:
“The Red Thread”, for Coca-Cola:
The original interview can be found HERE.